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First Lady Unhurt After Plane Slides Off Runway

March 21, 1986

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Nancy Reagan, described as ″visibly shaken″ when her plane slipped off the runway at an Atlanta airport, has returned safe and sound to the White House.

President Reagan told the first lady in a telephone call after the incident, ″I’ll be waiting for you.″

Mrs. Reagan arrived at Andrews Air Force Base early Thursday evening aboard a small jet from the presidential fleet.

″We’re fine,″ reported Elaine Crispen, Mrs. Reagan’s press secretary, who was seated near the first lady on the plane. No one was injured, Mrs. Crispen said.

Mrs. Reagan flew to Atlanta Thursday morning to attend a parents’ anti-drug abuse conference. She had delivered a speech and was leaving town when the incident occurred.

Her plane, one of the larger planes in the presidential fleet, was taxiing on the runway and making a sharp turn when the right set of wheels slipped off the runway and became mired in the mud.

Mrs. Crispen said Mrs. Reagan was ″visibly shaken and immediately asked, ’Is everyone OK?‴

The press secretary said the crew inspected the aircraft. She and the first lady got off and ″sat in a hangar drinking tea and watching TV″ until they departed for Washington on the smaller plane.

Mrs. Crispen said the first lady did not express any fear about flying. ″She got right on the other plane,″ Mrs. Crispen said.

Wendy Weber, Mrs. Reagan’s deputy press secretary, said the plane ″was not going very fast″ at the time of the incident.

Mrs. Reagan was accompanied by about 20 members of her staff and Secret Service agents, said Ms. Weber, who was not aboard the plane but spoke with Mrs. Crispen about the mishap.

The blue and white C-9 plane is a modified version of the DC-9, Ms. Weber said. Whenever the first lady flies in a government aircraft, the plane is identified by the Air Force as ″Foxtrot One.″

Asked if the incident was caused by pilot error, Ms. Weber declined comment.

Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Inez Almond said she did not know how fast the plane was traveling when it left the runway or how many people were aboard.

Ms. Weber said Mrs. Reagan told the president about the incident by telephone.

She said Mrs. Reagan reported that the president asked her, ″Are you all right?″ and that he added, ″I’ll be waiting for you.″

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